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Zoo News

animal care

Jul 29, 2019

At 8 a.m. the check-up line was assembled. Two veterinarians, two veterinary technicians, a curator and two Rocky Shores keepers all stood poised at three long tables in the seabird underwater viewing area at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. Carefully lined up on the tables were a scale, spare leg bands, clippers, vials, syringes primed … Continued

Jul 17, 2019

Turns out, when you give physicals to giant pouched rats, some things are easy – like examining their long curved front teeth. Getting a blood sample from those tiny veins? Not so easy. But it’s a vital part of assessing health. “I’ll try the jugular first,” says head veterinarian Dr. Karen Wolf, gently parting soft … Continued

Jul 16, 2019

He’s healthy, weighs around 25 pounds and follows Mom everywhere. The Malayan tapir calf born July 12 at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium has just received his first wellness exam, and he appears to be in perfect health, says Dr. Karen Wolf, head veterinarian. “He is bright, exploring his environment and is in good body … Continued

Jul 10, 2019

It took three staff members, six adult volunteers, three youth Zoo Guides and four classes of high schoolers to shovel sand for polar bears – but it was worth it. On a late spring day, Boris and Blizzard, the polar bears at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, shifted to their inside dens for the day … Continued

Jun 05, 2019

For most of us, a wellness exam at 52 is all about middle-age health issues. For Cho Cho, it’s an impressive tribute to a senior siamang and the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium staff who care for him – because at 52, Cho Cho is believed to be the oldest siamang in human care in … Continued

May 16, 2019

PUPDATE: The red wolf pups are now roaming outside on view to the public. They also have names – meet them here. When Dr. Karen Wolf picks up eight newborn red wolf pups one by one, it’s more than just a routine – though adorable – new pup exam. It’s a victory. “American red wolves … Continued

Apr 24, 2019

It’s magical enough to stand inside the Pacific Seas Aquarium and gaze at shimmering scales, cruising sea turtles or impossibly long wolf eels. But with x-ray vision, a whole new underwater world reveals itself. Thanks to our veterinary team, who regularly take radiographs of our Pacific Seas Aquarium animals to check on their health and … Continued

Apr 08, 2019

Aquarist Mikiko Williams, clad in a black wetsuit, stood in the Japanese Spider Crab habitat at the Pacific Seas Aquarium, reached down, gently picked up an animal that weighed about 8 pounds and hoisted it up and out of the water. It was just after 8:30 a.m., the Zoo would open in an hour, and … Continued

Mar 27, 2019

In a corridor surrounded by pipes, tanks and equipment, three women crouch over a tub. One – an intern veterinarian – carefully handles a Q-tip swab. The second – a veterinarian – readies a microscope slide. The third – an aquarist – has her gloved hands submerged, gently holding a china rockfish. A fourth aquarist … Continued

Feb 28, 2019

Zoological Aide Katie Schachtsick holds a long-handled back-scratcher and applies just the right amount of pressure as she rubs it across the black-and-white hide of endangered Malayan tapir Yuna. It’s clear Yuna enjoys the attention – and the back rub – leaning into the scratcher and then moving her stout legs down, getting into a … Continued

Feb 25, 2019

Cross your paws. And think of tiger cubs! Our endangered female Sumatran tigers, 5-year-old Kali and 4-year-old Kirana, could be pregnant. Both were artificially inseminated Jan. 30 with sperm from 14-year-old Mohan. We won’t know for a few weeks if a pregnancy resulted, but if successful, tiger cubs would be born in May. But it … Continued

Jan 23, 2019

At age 33, Boris is very likely the oldest male polar bear on the planet. We know he’s the oldest male of his species in zoo-related databases that keep track of polar bears worldwide. And since polar bears live longer under human care than they do in the wild, we think he is the champ. … Continued

Jan 07, 2019

Behind the Asian Forest Sanctuary at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, volunteer Scott Murdock has disappeared behind a vine. The massive spread of large, furling leaves engulfs Murdock’s head, leaving visible just legs on a ladder. Sprawled in the sun, the vines smell rich and green. It’s the Zoo’s kiwifruit arbor, and Murdock gently twists … Continued

Dec 18, 2018

Playing with an octopus isn’t in everyone’s job description. But for aquarium staff Paige Gutierrez and Tai Fripp, it’s all part of caring for Ozzie, the giant Pacific octopus inside the Pacific Seas Aquarium at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. Why? Because an octopus is curious – and if an aquarist is cleaning her habitat, … Continued

Dec 13, 2018

In clear, blue Baja Bay, three scuba divers are drifting alongside eagle rays and brightly-colored fish. They’re moving slowly, and unlike most divers in tropical waters, they’re not gazing admiringly at the animals around them. Because these divers are aquarists at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium – and they’re hard at work. “We clean, we … Continued

Dec 03, 2018

On a cold, wet November morning, veterinary technician Julie Lemon is lying on her stomach on a hard floor. Angling her head, she carefully positions a small metal wand between the hard, pointy toes of a tapir, who’s anesthetized and sleeping soundly in his den. Then she presses a button, and a stream of pink … Continued

Oct 24, 2018

How does it feel to be the oldest siamang – probably – in North America? Well, for Cho Cho, snuggled up with his companion Dudlee on a crisp fall morning at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, it seemed pretty cozy. This year Cho Cho is celebrating his 51st birthday – which makes him probably the … Continued

Oct 15, 2018

For Veterinary Technician Week 2018, we’re not just celebrating our wonderful vet techs – we’re introducing them to you! Vet techs assist veterinarians in every aspect of animal health care, and they care deeply about our animals – often in very practical ways. We couldn’t do without them. (Meet our other vet tech, Julie.) Lauren … Continued

Oct 15, 2018

For Veterinary Technician Week 2018, we’re not just celebrating our wonderful vet techs – we’re introducing them to you! Vet techs assist veterinarians in every aspect of animal health care, and they care deeply about our animals – often in very practical ways. We couldn’t do without them. (Meet our other vet tech, Lauren.) Julie … Continued

Sep 26, 2018

Animal care aide Jordan Jirik lies flat on her stomach, her head hanging over the top of Baja Bay’s 280,000-gallon habitat. Below her, five hungry spotted eagle rays swim eagerly up to a large black sign with a big white X emblazoned on it. It’s their feeding-station target. And when it appears in the water, … Continued

Jun 13, 2018

Our incredible staff goes through extreme lengths for medical procedures to help treat all Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium animals, from a small turtle to a massive tiger. Four veterinarians, two dentists, two dental assistants, one x-ray technician and several caring zookeepers gave one endangered Sumatran tiger a root canal last Friday. Kirana did great … Continued

Jun 13, 2018

Boris, our 32-year-old polar bear, is in his golden years and experiencing some arthritis and inflammation. To help make sure he has a great quality of life, our veterinary and animal care team are using stem cell therapy in hopes that this treatment will help slow down the progression of his arthritis inflammation. This innovative … Continued

Jun 13, 2018

He’s an elder statesman of the polar bear world – and he’s beloved here at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. And right now, he needs all our loving thoughts. Boris just turned 32 – way above the median male life expectancy of around 21. That’s a huge testimony to the care he’s received here at … Continued

Jun 12, 2018

Sunny and Azul, the green sea turtles waiting patiently for their new home in the aquarium’s Baja Bay exhibit, passed their first physical wellness exam this month with flying colors – and got a treat as a reward for being good patients. Watch the video here.